Friday, April 29, 2016

Shipped Home in a Box, and the Receptionist's Additional Duties

1874: Shipped Home in a Coffin

Josephine "Josie" LeClear, age 24, had been living near St. John's School, a boys' school, in Manlius Village, New York for about two weeks, working in the culinary department. On Saturday, April 15, she went to Norwich but on April 29 "was sent back ... in a coffin and box from there, and accompanying the box was a medical certificate, saying that she died of no contagious disease."

Mrs. Copeland, the school matron, went to Norwich and reported "the situation of the corpse and other things surrounding it" were very suspicious. The coroners of the respective counties worked together to investigate Joesphine's death. 

Josie's body was in terrible shape, with her face and body were badly swollen and discolored, and she was oozing fluid from the mouth. When the doctor performing the autopsy opened her abdomen, a large amount of gas escaped. The intestines appeared normal, but the uterus was enlarged, punctured with a large hole at the top, and necrotic in patches. The cause of death was clearly an abortion.

Josie's brother Albert said that she had left home on a Saturday morning after a visit of about a week, saying that she was going to collect some back pay from a previous employer. He didn't see her again until her body was shipped to him in the box, with all the shipping fees paid but no indication of who had made arrangements for the macabre delivery. Nobody in the family had known, or would have guessed, that Josie was pregnant.

The investigators determined that Josie had taken very ill after her trip to Norwich, and was cared for by Dr. H. M. Smith and several other physicians who determined that she was suffering abortion complications and pressed her to identify the guilty parties. "She persistently refused to make any statement." On being informed that her death was inevitable, she identified her paramour and her abortionist. A friend or acquaintance who had been caring for Josie during her illness had been the one to obtain a coffin and arrange for shipment of her body. 

The doctor was not named in the news coverage, but was identified as "a resident practitioner of Hamilton, Madison County. His reputation is none the best, and he has boasted that he could do these things up very neatly."

1914: Languished for Two Days

On April 29, 1914, 37-year-old homemaker Mary Stepen died at Chicago's Rhodes Avenue Hospital from septicemia and hemorrhage due to an abortion perpetrated by midwife Anna Stanek. Mary, an immigrant from Bohemia, had languished in the hospital for two days before she died. Stanek was indicted on May 15, but the case never went to trial.

1986: Anesthesia by a Recptionist

A square logo with no images, just text: NAF / National Abortion Federation
Twenty-year-old homemaker Gloria Aponte went to National Abortion Federation member Hanan Rotem in Stamford, Connecticut, for a safe and legal abortion on April 29, 1986. A few hours after the abortion, Gloria was declared dead from hemorrhage at a nearby hospital. An investigation by health officials found that Rotem had failed to perform necessary blood tests and had permitted a receptionist with no medical training to administer anesthesia. Rotem had no hospital privileges and no emergency patient transfer agreement in place. For his fatal treatment of Gloria, he was fined a total of $2,000.

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